Letter To The Editor; OneWorld.Net

The Article by Mr.Jacob on the Narmada issues

Dear Editor,

I was surprised to read the article on Narmada issue and Supreme Court judgement by one Mr. Nitaya Jacob. The article is not only scurrilous and damaging for a people's movement in India, but is also patently dishonest and false. I wonder how Oneworld has entertained such a pedestrian piece before ascertaining the truth in it. The entire article smacks of the ignorance of the writer about the terrain, geography, population and history of Narmada valley, the people's movements and the adverse impact of the Supreme Court decision on such a movement. The writer has no inkling of movements that are going in India. If this is your link with the Indian reality and movements, then Oneworld has really to think about its supposed mission. Now in brief, some points of Mr. Jacob:

1. Narmada mass base: The man who was there only for 4-5 days, he pretends to know the valley better than anyone. He selectively chooses to give quotes. At least Oneworld must have looked into the fact that a number of journalists and independent observers have been travelling in the valley for more number of days. I have my complaint against the Oneworld, more than this dishonest person, pretending as journalist, of not adhering to journalistic ethics of ascertaining the truth in his piece. For the last fifteen years, umpteeen number of independent people whose credentials are impeccable have written on the movement, about the activists, mass mobilisation and the honesty of the organisation in the valley.

It is a pity that Oneworld carries patently false propaganda that NBA is confined to the cities. I consider that without ascertaining this, Oneworld has humiliated scores of honest activists, villager, who have faced the government repression, defamation by vested interests and the ridicule of the elite classes within India. Oneworld, if it has some integrity in it, must apologise for this false accusation or you must disown this piece.

2. The submergence zone have the landholders from Patidar community also. The Tribal area is near to the dam and is first to submerge. All the NBA Satyagraha has been concentrated in this area and the government wants to subjugate this area first. The Patidar and other communities in the plains are also landholders. There are Yadavs, Patidars, Jats, Marus and some Kevat-Kahars, some backward communities who own lands. Many people are dependent on agriculture related activities. The landholding pattern is such that hardly 5-7% houselolds can be called as big farmers ( including Patidar farmers). Majority of them are medium ( upto 10 acres) and small farmers. Most of the ( all ) farmers are severely indebted. The agriculture and farmers in India are the most unfortunate lot. The city-slickers, even the so called 'Progressive'( like your correspondent) fail to understand, study the reality of farming and farmers in Indian hinterlands. For them, it is 4 5 day sojourn for some slick periodical. Another problem : if one goes into the details, one may not be 'free' to indulge in mudslinging. I perfectly understand Mr. Jacob's difficulty.

Anyway, Oneworld and its readers should understand that what was written about the valley and movement, is not the reality. I am ready to join in for debate on this with the facts and documentary proof, if that is what is required. And, it is unfortunate that one has to 'prove' that. Those who have been nearer to the movements can understand that without the burning issues, any mass base and truth on its side, no movement can be there for fifteen years.

3. Your writer camouflages the ignorance and bias by quoting some Dalit leader (?). We have never seen these gentlemen in the valley and villages, they never talked to the NBA. One must understand that some intellectuals and past activists have been playing the cynical and nihilistic game of unnecessarily pitting the different movements and groups against each other. NBA has been always with the groups and movements fighting casteism and communalism. National Alliance of People's Movements does have all such organisations and NBA is one of the comrades in this coordination process. Hundreds of organisations of fishworkers, dalits, farmers, workers, students, farm labourers, women and common people who value democracy and equality, have expressed solidarity with the NBA in the future fight for justice. The NBA has taken on the issue of larger justice for the rights of the common pewople and democratic norms. The struggle would be going on these lines in next few months.

4.The movements in India have been passing thorugh the most difficult period, wherein the established media is colluding with the combined force of the Capital and State. I am afraid that Oneworld has almost bordered on this collusion by publishing this falsity.

I appeal to the good conscience of those in Oneworld to ascertain the truth of your India correspondent about Narmada or any other movement. I am really ashamed of such dishonest and unjournalistic piece. I am not aware whether those in Oneworld think.

I understand that the writer of such scurrilous piece is your India correspondent. In such a situation, no wonder that no constant news about the activities and processes of NBA reaches you. This is just a censorship and devoid of journalistic ethics. You can give us the contacts where we can send some infornmation and news, apart from the above mentioned writer, so that it may help you to ascertain the facts regarding the omissions and commissions which your India correspondent indulges in.

Hope you take serious note of this.

In Solidarity,

Sanjay Sangvai